Unfortunately I can't recall the name of the group because I was only 8 or 9 years old at the time, but I do remember our #1 cover hit called: Sending Out an SOS (which was altered to include a special time sensitive militant message of course). Our rise and fall began and ended in a small classroom where we practiced under the tutelage of Atiba Coard*; a kid from one of the older grades who we thought was the Berry Gordy to our Supremes.
I think quite a few of you can relate. I often recall my high school homeboys harmonizing to It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday (the original of course) while we girls sat on the sidelines with supportive yet pained grins through their off key harmonizing sung with such bravado (and intoxication I must add) that they were completely unaware of the cracked high notes they were hitting...poor babies.
This "doowop" style of music is coveted by all and makes a resurgence quite often. That's what speaks to the style's timeless nature. Most modern day (50's to present) generations have a few holdin-that-hair-brush-in-front-of-the-mirror songs we tend to sing like we're big names on the marquee. These memories are why I personally was so thrilled when I received an invite to see Baby it's You! last night at the Broadhurst Theatre. The tag line reads: The Shirelles made the headlines...She made the Shirelles.
I made it a point not to read too much about the show in advance to avoid any spoilers. My skimpy knowledge of Shirelles music came from compilation CD commercials (Rhino Records) or more notably from TV shows like Happy Days and movies like American Graffiti as their songs played as a backdrop to the dialogue. Honestly, I had prepared myself to watch the classic band/music group story about a group of girls who grew up together singing in High School who were then discovered and hit the big time with of course a resulting clash of egos resulting in their demise. The story of the Shirelles has always been overshadowed by that of the Supremes and I couldn't wait to see the drama unfold.
My expectations didn't get met, but in a good way. While there were some dramatic moments, what the audience actually gets to witness is an inspiring story of a suburban housewife by the name of Florence Greenberg wrapped in musical performances that make me mad I wasn't a child of he 50's and 60's. I immediately found myself relating to Florence. That may sound odd if anyone looked at our lives in parallel, but what one can take away from the very first scene, is that she had a grand desire to change, to live her dreams and to be free...who among us can't relate to that?
It was a good retrospective. I loved the stage design treatment and clever costume changes (of which there were many), and I really enjoyed the music. The voices were flawless and the cast paid close attention to the style of singing and choreography of that era. I left with some of my favorites repeating themselves in my head during the train ride home and as I write this blog. Ironically the only song I wasn't familiar with was the title hit Baby It's You...LOL
As an enticement for you to check it out, the folks over at Baby it's You! would like to extend the 40% OFF offer below:
Sending Out an SOS - The first song I sang as lead in my girl group.
* - A special note - RIP Atiba...I'll never forget you.
It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday - The song my boys swear they were born to sing.
Rhino Records - Girl Group Greats - The commercial that put me on to this music.